Since the turn of the millennium the number of home-schooled children in the United States has risen dramatically. According to recent data from the U.S Department of Education, the number of American children 5 through 17 years old who were being homeschooled by their parents climbed by 61.8 percent between 2003 and 2012. The total number of children home schooled in 2012 was 1,773,000, or 3.4 percent of elementary and secondary school-aged children that year.
Historically, there are visible trends in who decides to take the home school route for their children. Usually, two parent households with one parent earning the total income are more likely to choose homeschooling. The more educated the parents, the more likely they are to homeschool their children and middle-income parents are more likely to homeschool than poorer or wealthier parents. This is most likely a result of lower income parents not having the available time to dedicate to teaching their children themselves.
Home schooling can have a number of advantages for parents The average home schooling family spends $500 per year for each child while the average family that has a children in public school spends $9,963 per year for each child. Home schooling also allows for more flexible scheduling and potentially more intimate and child specific educational frameworks tailored to particular student strengths.
Although the historical characteristics have defined home schooling parents in previous years, today the home school population is decidedly more diverse. In a sociological study from 2010 by Philip Q. Yang and Nihan Kayaardi of Texas Women’s university, the data on home schooling showed a decreasing extent of difference in demographic, religious, socio‐economic and family‐structure characteristics in regard to which parents are more likely to home‐school their children.
Technology has also had a role in facilitating home school’s expansion in the United States. Now, entire curriculums on math, programming, and science exist on web formats and are easily accessible to home schooling parent. Home school parents now extensively use programs like Codakid, Sphero, and Osmo to teach computer science. With more than 74% of home-educated adults between 18-24 having taken college level courses, a substantially higher rate than the general US population, which comes in at 46% for the same age range, an increasing portion of the college population and by extension those going into tech fields are coming from home schooling backgrounds. With many of the economy’s new jobs being predominately tech based, demanding certain knowledge of computer programming and tech ability, homeschooling could prove a more pivotal part of the educational discussion around tech and job preparedness in the future.